The first time Hubby and I went to NYC we found ourselves in this fabulous diner in Chelsea for breakfast, one of those ones in a long railway car, all retro and shiney, and had quite possibly the most delicious french toast ever. It was so good that we had to ask the staff what on earth they had done to it … turns out the magic was using melted vanilla ice cream instead of milk… the crazy geniuses!
Needless to say we couldn’t go back to ‘bog standard’ french toast after that so now on celebratey type days, or ‘just because’ at the weekend, Hubby rustles us up a plate of these as a wee treat.
Hubby’s also done these with a wee hint of orange, or made a french toast sandwich with a banana filling, but I think they are fantastic just as they are, with maple syrup and and a pat of butter melting away on top. My absolute favourite though is to add a couple of rashers of American streaky bacon on top of the syrup and butter which, if you like salty/sweet combos, elevates this to a whole new level of delicious 🙂
Healthy this most definitely is not, but when breakfast tastes this damn good you really don’t care 😉 And I promise, a plate of these will put a big ass smile on your face all day!
Best. Ever. French. Toast.
Possibly the most indulgent breakfast of all time, french toast New York style.
1 sourdough boule, sliced to 3/4 inch thick slices
1 pint good quality vanilla ice cream
1 large egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon, to taste
Optional: 1/2 tsp orange extra, or a bit of orange zest, for a lighter flavour
Start by melting the ice cream in the microwave until it’s a nice, soupy consistency – you may not need the whole pint depending on how much french toast you intend to make.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg and add the vanilla extract and cinnamon (and orange extract/zest if you’re using them) and whisk gently again to combine. Next, add the melted ice cream and whisking gently again to combine everything – do not overmix as this will toughen the egg and you’ll end up with a more custardy bread.
Dip the brioche slices in the melted ice cream and egg mixture, letting the slices rest for a few seconds on each side.
Melt a bit of butter in a heated frying pan and place the eggy brioche slices in the pan. Cook for about 30 seconds on each side over a medium-high heat, turning as needed to prevent burning. When the slices are lightly browned, they’re good to take off of the heat.
To serve, lather the slices with butter and warm maple syrup. Or top with sliced berries and sprinkle with icing sugar, or warm some jam to make a fruit syrup to pour over.
Wow! Christmas, pre during and post, was BUSY! Lots of time spent celebrating the holidays with family, and mostly by eating, marvellous 🙂 So rather than dwell on how quiet this blog has been let’s just move swiftly along and greet the New Year with a new recipe! And what a fab new recipe it is too! I do like a cheeky pork pie, but Hubby isn’t a big fan of the jelly (understatement…), so when I saw this recipe in the Great British Food magazine I thought it might keep both of us happy.
I am happy to report that it most certainly did, and then some! They may not be picture perfect (somewhere Paul Hollywood is twitching and he doesn’t know why!) and half of my bluberries may have popped, but I love the homemadeyness of them all being a little uneven, and they were hella good fun to make 🙂 And the joy of readymade pastry makes this recipe a total doddle and something you can rustle up in a little under half an hour.
Any worries I might have had that the blueberries would be a little tart were for naught as they sweetened up perfectly when combined with the redcurrant jelly and were a wonderful counterpoint to the savouriness of the sausagemeat. Next time I make these I’m going to experiment with the filling… Our local butcher, Crombies, does an amazing pork and caramalised onion sasuage that I think would work an absolute treat! And! My sister in law gave me a bottle of her delicious homemade bramble vinegar which I’m going to sub in for the red wine vinegar as I think it’ll be amazing with the blueberries.
We ate half our batch for lunch, and popped the rest in the fridge to snack on. I suspect they won’t last the weekend…
Blueberry Glazed Pork Pies
Sweet blueberries compliment savoury sausagemeat, stuffed in lovely pastry pie cases.
flour for rolling or waxy baking parchment (really!)
3 spring onions, snipped into slices
400g good quality pork and herb sausages, poked out of their skins
freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten to glaze
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
1 tsp cornflour mixed with 1 tbsp water
butter for greasing the muffin tin
Other stuff you’ll need…
11.5 cm biscuit cutter or small coffee cup saucer
12 section muffin tin
Stuff to do first…
Put the oven on and preheat to 180C/350C/Gas Mark 4. Lightly butter the muffin tin, including the areas around each of the muffin cups. Wash the spring onions.
Start by making up the stuffing mix per your packet instructions – I used Paxo – and set to one side.
Roll out your pastry, either on a floured surface or be sneaky like Hubby and snub flour completely by rolling your pastry out between two sheets of waxy baking parchment! Properly genius!! You’re aiming to get the pastry quite thin yet sturdy enough to hold the filling without breaking when they’re cooked and you’re gently wrestling them out of the muffin tin (can you tell I learnt this the hard way?!).
Cut out 12 circles using the biscuit cutter/saucer, re-rolling the pastry until you have enough. Then gently press the pastry circles into the muffin tin (using the ball end of the rolling pin to lightly poke them in works a treat) so that the pastry stands a little above the top of the tin in a wavy edge. Set to one side.
Snip the spring onions into your mixing bowl and then snap on the CSI vinyl gloves and get the sausages! Using scissors or a sharp knife, cut a slit up the length of the sausage skin and then poke all the sausagemeat out into the bowl with the spring onions. Give it a good few grinds of fresh black pepper (since the sausages were seasoned before they were cased you shouldn’t need to add any salt) and then get your hands in there and mix it all up. Tip the stuffing in and mix that all in too.
Divide your sausagemeat mixture between each of the pastry cases, using the back of a spoon to even them out.
Brush the top edges of the pastry cases with a little beaten egg, then pop into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until that top edge of the pastry is golden and the filling is cooked through. Leave them to cool for 15 minutes, then carefully free them from the muffin tin (I found a butter knife really helpful) and place them on a cooling rack.
While the pies are cooling down, put thevinegar and redcurrant jelly into a small saucepan. Stir on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the jelly has melted and then add the berries. Mix the cornflour and water to get a smooth paste and then stir into the berries and cook until the juices have thickened a little and the berries are starting to soften – don’t cook the berries for too long or they’ll pop. Leave to cool before spooning over the pies (if you’ve overdone the cornflour then spoon while its hot because once it cools it will be impossible to work with, again, as I found out the hard way!).
The cornflour may take the sheen off the blueberry topping mix in which case brush a very VERY little bit of olive oil over the berries to give them a glaze. Scoff!
So! Along with my newly(ish) discovered like of soup comes something similar for bread, not of the sliced loaf variety but of the more artisany tear and share type that you can dunk in aforementioned soup – I’m a total sucker for sourdough, or a nice boule, oven warmed and then slathered in butter. Making bread from scratch though hasn’t ever appealed, that whole kneading thing being a bit of a turn off, so when I found this recipe on The Slow Roasted Italian (via Pintrest or course!) that sounded delicious AND required nothing more than a good stir I knew I had to give it a go! Smart move on my part 🙂
Simple really is an understatement, in fact, this recipe is simpler than simple and another of those ones where the effort to taste ratio is crazy heavily biased towards taste (hurrah!) I can’t say I wasn’t a little suspicious about the total lack of kneading, as well as there being no yeast involved, but my loaf baked up very very nicely. Unsurprisingly, it was denser than a traditional loaf but it was perfect for purpose and absolutely hit the spot when buttered up and paired up with a big bowl of soup. I wouldn’t try and make a sandwich using it though…
Much, if not all, of the credit for the final flavour has to go to Hubby who was in charge of the beer selection – he went for an Innis & Gunn which is his go to beer for drinking and cooking, a lovely homegrown brew, and opted for their rum finish which was a little darker to get a punchier flavour. Totally the right choice! Hubby was also in charge of the cheese combo as I am rubbish when it comes to the stuff (cheese boards actually terrify me!) and went for a mild cheddar (arran) and an emmental which was plenty cheesy enough for me.
If I had any advice to give it would be to start with milder cheeses to figure out what they’re adding, and then experiment accordingly. And to have a go at making this bread. Go on… It’s SO easy, it would be a shame not to 😉
Bacon Cheddar Beer Bread
An easy knead-free bread that is full of big savoury flavours, perfect with soup.
1 1/4 cup shredded cheese (mix up to three different types)
340 ml/12 ounce beer (I&G was a wee bit over so we just poured it all in)
4 slices of cooked bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Get the oven on first and preheat to 175C/350F, then grease your loaf tin with butter and set aside. Cook your bacon up, I usually like mine crispy but for this I kept it quite “soft”, drain on kitchen towel and then snip or cut into wee pieces. Melt your butter and set aside.
In your mixing bowl put the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix it all up with a whisk and then make a well in the middle. Into the well put the bacon, about 3/4 of the cheese and then pour in the beer. Stir with a wooden spoon until its all combined.
And that’s it! Seriously! All that’s left to do is pour your mixture into your loaf tin, top with the rest of the cheese, drizzle over half the melted butter, and then pop it into the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Take out the oven, drizzle the rest of the butter over the top, and then pop it back in again.
Bake for another 25-30 minutes, by which time the cheese should be nicely browned on the top, and when you tap the loaf it should thump.
Give it five minutes to cool a little and then pop the loaf out of the tin, it should literally fall out, and leave on a wire rack to cool. We gave it about 20 minutes and then scoffed it with a big bowl of soup. Epic!
A couple of weekends ago I had some friends round for a bit of a curry feast. Apart from loving curries so any excuse really to make them, they’re perfect for cooking up ahead of time which means you’re not stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is having fun in another room without you. So while choosing which curries to cook was a doddle, trying to find starters that didn’t need a lot of attention on the night was much tougher than I thought it would be. And I wanted to do a spread of Indian finger food rather than a sit down starter which narrowed down my options even more. Suffice it to say, there were tantrums…
But! I eventually found four fantastic Indian inspired nibblies, of which this was probably my favourite (and judging by the empty plates I’m guessing they went down quite well with my friends too!). They’re easy peasy, look pretty as a picture, taste even better than they look and are fiendishly moreish. Thank you Delicious Magazine, for coming to the rescue! Again! 🙂
Don’t be tempted to buy large prawns, like tiger prawns, because you’ll have a mare trying to balance them on the poppadoms. And be prepared to sift through your bag of poppadoms to find ones that are whole and flat or at least opened enough to sit the prawn easily on/in (silver lining = you can snack on all the broken or curled up ones while you’re sifting!). The longer you can leave the prawns in the curry mixture the better the flavours will develop, overnight is perfect but even a couple of hours will make a difference. If you’re making these well ahead of time then refrigerate, but remember to take out them back out about 45 minutes before you want to serve them up so that they can get back up to room temperature.
Spiced Prawn Poppadoms
Easy peasy Indian nibbles that are fiendishly tasty.
2 limes, 1 for zesting and 1 to cut into wedges for garnish
Small handful of chopped fresh coriander, plus extra leaves to garnish
100g bag mini poppadoms (Walkers Sensations Lime & Coriander Chutney if you can)
Mango chutney to serve (smooth if you can)
Drain the prawns of any liquid and pat dry with kitchen paper. And if you have an aversion to prawn tails, like Hubby who calls them flippers (!) then nip those off.
In a bowl, mix together the curry paste, yogurt, lime zest and coriander, then season to taste. Tip the prawns in and stir until they’re evenly coated in the curry mixture and set aside for at least 15 minutes.
You want to do the assembling about 20 minutes before you want to put these out.
Take about 30 whole poppadoms from the bag and put them onto your serving plates. Place a spiced prawn on each (or if the prawns are quite small then place two on each).
Top each with a small blob of mango chutney (I found a small squeezy bottle perfect for doing this quickly) and don’t be tempted to overdo the mango chutney or it will overpower all the other flavours. Top with a wee bit of coriander leaf, and you’re good to serve.
And finally, pop a couple of small lime wedges onto each plate for people to squeeze over.
My retro trip continues! This weekend it was the turn of that total guilty pleasure starter, prawn cocktail, with the scales tipped most definitely in the favour of pleasure 🙂 I’m a big fan of M&S’s ready made but making your own Marie Rose sauce is so easy that it really is a sin not to just whip it up yourself. That and you can go for the biggest, fattest prawns you can find!
And if you like it as much as Hubby does, it makes for a great salad lunch with some avocados and cherry tomatoes tossed in too.
King Prawn Cocktail
A delicious retro classic, with an easy peasy homemade Marie Rose sauce.
1 lemon – juice half, and quarter the other half for serving
Dash of Tabasco
200g cooked prawns – king or tiger
Lettuce – iceberg if you’re sticking with the classic, or baby gem
Sprinkle of paprika
In a bowl large enough to hold your prawns and allow for some movement, mix the mayonnaise, salad cream and ketchup. Add lemon juice to taste and mix well. Next, add a dash or two of tabasco – you don’t want to be able to taste its distinctive flavour, just apreciate the piquancy it brings to the party – and mix again.
Tip your prawns into the bowl and stir until they’re all coated. I like to pop the bowl back in the fridge for a half hour to chill everything, but it’s not a must.
When you’re ready to serve, grab a few leaves of iceberg and roll them up like a cigar before slicing into ribbons. Half fill your serving bowls with lettuce (if you’re going for that full retro feel then it has to be a large wine glass!) before topping with the prawns. Or, make a wee cradle out of two or three baby gem lettuce leaves on a small plate and spoon the prawns into it.
Sprinkle with a little paprika and serve with a quarter of lemon.
Is it wrong that I love retro food quite as much as I do? I’ll happily feed friends my beef stroganoff and without a side of irony, or talk Hubby into picking up an M&S prawn cocktail on his way home (if Heston can eat them, so can I!). If there’s a Black Forest Gateau option for dessert then I can be usually persuaded to indulge my rare sweet tooth. And I’ve got my eye out for steak diane on a menu because it’s been forever since I’ve had one of those.
So it will come as no surprise that I have an irrational fondness for vol-au-vents. If there’s a plate of them on a buffet table I will make a beeline for them. And Christmas isn’t Christmas if I haven’t had at least one pack of M&S’s party food vol-au-vents.
I finally made them myself over Jubilee weekend, having scoured the interwebs for an appealing filling recipe I found this on Gourmet Traveller’s site, and thought the celebratory tone the champagne gives it would be perfect for a family get together. And they went down a treat! So much so that I didn’t eat nearly enough of them and promised Hubby I’d make them again “just for us”, which I finally did this weekend 🙂 I also seem to be having a love affair with tarragon at the moment so this killed two cravings with one dish!
The original recipe seems to be for small canape sized vol-au-vents, however, life is too short to make my own so I cheated and bought some ready to bake ones from Jus-Rol. They’re quite a bit bigger than bite sized, at least two-bite sized, so I’ve adapted my recipe accordingly.
Champagne Chicken Vol-Au-Vents
More retro indulgence! Puff pastry nibbles for parties or seriously posh TV snackage.
1/2 small leek (40gm), white part only, thinly sliced
1 lemon, finely grated rind and juice
2 tbsp double cream
1 small chicken breast (about 250gm)
250 ml Champagne or sparkling white wine
125 ml water
In a small saucepan, small enough to fit the chicken snugly and cover with the poaching liquor, combine the champagne, water, leek, lemon rind and tarrogon sprigs. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, then add the chicken and return to the boil for 10 minutes (keep an eye on the pot as it will try to bubble over).
After the 10 minutes, remove the pan from the heat, cover, and leave to cool completely while the chicken poaches through.
Once the poaching liquor has cooled down, remove the chicken and finely shred it (fingers or two small forks are perfect) and refrigerate it until needed.
Strain the poaching liquor only into a clean sauccepan (you can throw away the tarrogon sprigs and leeks) and bring to the boil again over a medium heat. Cook the poaching liquor down until it’s reduced to 50ml which should take 15 to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on it as it can cook down quickly – I kept pouring it into a measuring jug to check how much was left, then pouring it back into the pan and then back into the measuring jug, until I had my 50ml. Leave to cool completely.
While the liquor is cooling, preheat the oven to 200C. Brush the vol-au-vent cases with a little milk or egg and cook per the package instructions.
While the cases are cooking, combine the chicken, reduced cooking liquor, cream and sliced tarrogon in a bowl. Season to taste with lemon juice and sea salt.
When the pastry cases are ready, divide the chicken filling among them and then return to the overn for 2-3 minutes, until the chicken is warmed through. Scatter with something green and decorative, and serve immediately with the remainder of your bottle of champagne!